Friday right after school Tina, Lynn, and I picked up the girls and drove the 4 hours to Tennessee and met up at her cabin. Some of the girls saw a bear outside the cabin (before my car load got there) and they all hung out in the hot tub while Patrol 1 made a taco dinner for everyone. Tina had arranged all the food for the whole trip and she did an amazing job. Everything was sooo yummy. And of course kudos to the girls for cooking it all! After dinner we watched tv and hung out before bed.
Saturday morning the next patrol got up really early and started making an elaborate breakfast of eggs, bacon, homemade biscuits, and tater tots while my room slept in. Then we all got up, had breakfast and hit the road. We drove down to the main Parkway of Gatlinburg along which a million activities, restaurants, and shops are.
Our first and main stop was Ober Gatlinburg (German for “over”). Here you take an aerial tramway halfway up the mountain to a small amusement park at the top. Our troop had gotten a group rate wristband that gave us unlimited access to everything up there which was awesome. First we went through the Wildlife encounter which is a small zoo of black bears, otters, and other small woodland animals like owls, raccoons, snakes, etc.
Next they did a maze where they were competing in pairs against each other and the clock to find 4 checkpoints and then their way out.
There was a swing that they get in seats and it spins around lifting you up off the ground. At noon we stopped for a quick lunch and let the girls run around at the little shops, arcade, and carousel inside. Then all of them (except Grace who was really sick that morning and kept throwing up) went ice skating. The final stop in Ober was the chairlift and slide. You get on a ski left that takes you the rest of the way up the mountain. You can get off the ski lift half way up the trip and take a sled down a curving slide back down to Ober. All of the girls did the slide and said it was amazing.
You can also take the chairlift all the way to the top of the mountain to see the views.
After Ober we went to a 5D interactive theater called Shoot Em Up Cinema. It was only about 15 minutes, but was lots of fun. You go in a small movie theater and sit on mechanical saddle ride thing with a gun and 3D glasses. Then it plays a little movie where you are riding through mine shafts and such trying to shoot cowboys that pop in and out of the screen. Everyone in the theater has a score and you are all competing against one another. I got 3rd place at one point! Not from any skill on my part, though, I mostly just tried to point my gun in the direction of a coybow and squeezed the trigger over and over and over.
Next stop was a mirror maze. The girls really liked this one. It was dark with black and colored lights and they ran around through it a couple of times. It only took a few minutes, but the passes are all day passes so you can go over and over.
Tina and Lynn had gone on ahead to get us a table at a little Italian joint while we were at the maze and we met up with them there for dinner. The food was decent,but expensive, and the service was *awful*. The waitress was SO RUDE. But we are Girl Scouts so we didn’t say anything.
After dinner we went to the Ripley’s Believe It or Not museum. This is a museum of all kinds of oddities and was really interesting. The best part was that about 1/3rd of the way through there is a photo of a girl that can roll her tongue all weird and then a mirror for you to try it out. Well, when you get to the end of the museum, you discover it isn’t a mirror but a 2-way mirror, and everyone can see you standing there sticking out your tongue at them!
When we got out of the museum (it ends with a little arcade and candy shop), we met up with the others (Lynn, Grace, and I had lagged behind reading everything) and found out that McKenzie was crying b/c something inside had scared her, and Tina was tired and fed up. We decided that Tina would take Deb (her two-year old daughter she had with us), McKenzie, and Mallory back to the cabin while the rest of us went on ahead to the Ghost Tour.
The Ghost Tour was a walking tour of Gatlinburg where a guide takes you around to local “haunted” spots and tells you stories of grizzly murders and deaths that happened there. The guide was pretty funny and a good storyteller; it was fun to do to get a little bit of spooky w/o being actually scary like a haunted house or something.
Poor Tina had gotten lost trying to go back to the cabin, so her and the girls had to sit at a gas station and wait for the rest of us to finish so she could follow us back to the cabin. She wasn’t having a great night. By the time we were all back at the cabin, it was late and we were about ready to collapse.
Sunday morning we lucked out and the time changed on us so we got an extra hour to sleep in. The last group of girls got up and made another awesome breakfast, and the rest hung out in the hot tub while it was cooking.
Then we all headed to the Great Smoky Mountains for a “scavenger hunt” hike. The trail follows along a creek and through an area that >100 years ago was a settlement instead of woods. There are various landmarks to try to find (a pioneer kissing rock, the remains of an old homestead, the remains of a Model T car, etc). At one point all the girls climbed down to the creek and were climbing up the creek via all the massive rocks. I even joined in with them for a little bit of it, climbing over rocks as best I could.
After the hike, it was back to the cabin for a quick lunch, pack up, clean up, and head back home. The trip was sooo much fun and I’m so glad we were able to do it. I had no idea there was so much to do up there and I will definitely be back when I have “kids”!